by Vic Zast
Saturday’s card was the best of the new season. A notable crowd of 25,375 fans witnessed top competition from start to finish. Three stakes – all graded, an opener that saw the venerable Caixa Eletronica win for the twenty-second time in 65 starts, four long distance turf races and a couple of two-year-old maiden special weights filled up the afternoon.
Caixa Eletronica in the winner's circle after winning first race.
Palace Malice took the first step toward a Travers Stakes with the winners of all Triple Crown races by capturing the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr.II). Jockey Mike Smith kept the Belmont Stakes (gr.I) champion near the pace of Moreno until the closing two furlongs. Then the good-looking Curlin colt cruised by to win by a comfortable length. Will Take Charge finished second.
The Dogwood Stable star has filled out since the spring and looked calm in the past parade, although Smith had to wick sweat from his flanks. Now it’s just up to Preakness Stakes (gr.I) winner Oxbow to show enough in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park to carry on and for Orb to train up to the August 24 Midsummer Derby without incident.
The horseplayers expected favorites to win the other two stakes. But they didn’t. Kauai Katie took to the track undefeated at Saratoga for the Prioress Stakes (gr.I) but finished last in a six-horse field. It’s hard to believe but the winner Lighthouse Bay gave George Weaver, who worked for D. Wayne Lukas, Todd Pletcher and Mark Hennig before striking out on his own in 2002, his first Grade 1 training victory.
Alan Goldberg upset the Diana Stakes (gr.I) with Laughing, an Irish-bred daughter of the British-born Dansili. Another Irish-bred mare, Dream Peace, finished second. Centre Court at 7-5 and Stephanie’s Kitten at 6-5 were favored. Both the Prioress and Diana had very small fields.
John Velazquez overtook Jerry Bailey with 694 career victories when he rode Unitarian in the fourth race. Bailey and Angel Cordero, Jr., who held the record before Bailey, both joined JR’s family, other jockeys and dozens of well-wishers to congratulate him. Once given the microphone, Bailey decided he should remind the crowd that he knew how tough an accomplishment winning so many races was. Pletcher, who saddled the winner, was more humble. “I’m really happy for Johnny,” he said. “It’s his moment, you know.”
The new King of Saratoga - John Velazquez.
Gianni Rossi, a middle-aged, satin-shirted crooner with more jewelry than Jared’s, headlined the 6:30 PM cocktail hour at Siro’s Trattoria. Ads for Deney Terrio, the Dance Party TV show veteran who is scheduled to appear at a Studio Prime fundraiser on August 3, have been steadily appearing in The Saratogian. A good guess is that the audience for these guys is more fun to watch than these guys. Where has horseman/child star David Cassidy gone?
Many locally-grown fruits and vegetables at the Farmer’s Market on High Rock Avenue aren’t ripe yet. But you can feast of succulent beefeaters and seasonal sweet corn at The Wishing Well. The shrimp cocktail looks like a bowl of three lobster tails.
Locally-grown tomatoes emerging at farmer's market, but season not started yet.
Vic Zast has attended the races at Saratoga for 49 straight summers. The Wishing Well is his favorite restaurant.